We Were Ready For a (SANGRIA) THROWDOWN!

We Were Ready For a (SANGRIA) THROWDOWN!

On the evening of Monday, June 13th, I participated in the Women of Wine’s 6th Annual Sangria Throwdown held at Tommy Vaughn Ford in Houston. The Women of Wine (WOW) is an organization of women, many of whom work with wine professionally, who raise money for and awareness of the Houston Area Women’s Center. The “Sangria Throwdown” is WOW’s annual Sangria competition and fundraiser held in June each year. This year, there were eleven teams competing for three awards: Judges’ Choice, people’s Choice, and Most Creative. While I helped get WOW started and try to support them as much and as often as I can, I had not participated in any of the previous Sangria Throwdowns. This year, however, I was inspired by some good natured needling from three time winner (and now throwdown judge) Sean Beck. So I decided that if I was going to participate, I had to try to win and to do that, I needed a great and unique and even different Sangria recipe. So I started to work on that recipe. I didn’t want to make a sweet red Sangria, partly because Wanted a drink my wife Carol would enjoy and she is adamant in her dislike for sweet red Sangria. So began to riff off of two ideas: a white Port cocktail called a Port Tonic and the on-going Spanish craze for heavily garnished Gin & Tonics. A Port Tonic is white Port and Tonic with lime so the two essentials of Sangria – wine and fruit juice – are already there. However, while a port tonic is perfectly fine and refreshing cocktail, more was needed. So, as Gin is neutral spirit infused with botanicals, I decided to try infusing my white Port of choice (Dow’s White Port) with two of my favorite herbs: Basil and Cilantro. I encounter Basil and Cilantro individually all over the place but I think I first encountered them together in a Vietnamese restaurant. I like the two flavors together so I began using them in together in a tomato salad I make as well as in a cantaloupe and mango salad. As I began to experiment with basil and cilantro in white Port, I felt I was on to something. over the summer and fall of 2015, the drink – Green Sangria – came together.

Our table with our tapenade and a display of the flavors in our Green Sangria

Our table with our tapenade and a display of the flavors in our Green Sangria

Over the winter, I began thinking about presentation. I wanted a colorful presentation that highlights the flavors found in the drink so our garnish included a sprig of cilantro, a basil leaf, some frozen red and green grapes, some lightly salted frozen cantaloupe, and a half wheel of lime. all served cold with just a few ice cubes. After several trial runs on various friends and family (all sworn to secrecy by head grape de-stemmer and glass garnisher Carol) including a full dress rehearsal with full garnish the Wednesday before the event. We felt like we were ready for the show. As we got ready for the event, we realized that were most likely serving the driest (least sweet) drink in the room so we decided to put out a bowl of Marcona almonds and a bowl of green and black olive tapenade so people could reset their palates after tasting other sweeter Sangrias.

I guess everything worked because when the votes were tallied, WOW President Denise Ehrlich announced that team Green Sangria had won the Judges’ Choice award, come in third in Most Creative, and won the People’s Choice award. Special Thanks to Miss Carol for all her work and perseverance and support over the development of the recipe and to Deborah Touchy and Joan Sokol for their help and support the night of the event.


Dow’s White Port
Minute Maid Lemonaide
Schweppes Tonic
Lime Juice
Green Seedless Grapes – Frozen
Red Seedless Grapes – Frozen
Cantaloupe – Cubed, lightly salted, and frozen
Chop approximately 2/3 cup of fresh Basil
Chop approximately 2/3 cup of fresh Cilantro
Put chopped Basil and Cilantro in a half gallon pitcher
Add the juice of four large limes
Add two 750ml bottles of Dow’s White Port.
Add 12 ounces of Minute Maid Lemonade (Regular or Lite)
Allow to macerate in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours stirring occasionally (over 12 hours is better).
Strain this mixture through a sieve or a chinois.
Before serving, stir in 12 ounces (or so to taste) of Schwepp’s Tonic Water (Regular or Diet)
Over frozen grapes and cantaloupe and a few ice cubes and garnish with a sprig of cilantro, a basil leaf, and a half wheel of lime.
Team Green Sangria with our Judges' Choice and People's Choice trophy Sangria bowls: Bear Dalton, Carol Dalton, Deborah Touchy, and Joan Sokol

Team Green Sangria with our Judges’ Choice and People’s Choice trophy Sangria bowls: Bear Dalton, Carol Dalton, Deborah Touchy, and Joan Sokol

Please Join me at the Women of Wine’s SANGRIA THROWDOWN

Please Join me at the Women of Wine’s SANGRIA THROWDOWN

Howdy All,

For the first time, I will be participating in Women of Wine’s Sangria Throwdown. I am in-it-to-win-it so please come out to Tommy Vaughn Ford next Monday (6/13/16) at 6:30pm and try my unique Green Sangria along with ten other creative Sangrias. It will be fun and you will be supporting a great cause: The Houston Area Women’s Center. Please click http://www.wowcharities.org/events-happy-hours/2016-sangria-throwdown/ to buy your tickets.

I hope to see you there,



A VALUE BORDEAUX SEMINAR AND TASTING benefitting the Houston Area Women’s Center

7pm on Monday, September 28, 2015
– OR –
7pm on Monday, October 12, 2015
at The Wine School at l’Alliance Française.

The same class is being offered on two different dates.
You may sign up for one or the other but not both.

Spec’s, the Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux, and the European Union invite you to join Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton for “Bordeaux Values” at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française. These are the wines I consistently go-to for my personal drinking at home or with friends. In this seminar tasting, we’ll look at wines from around Bordeaux that offer quality and value. Topics of discussion will include vintages, the appellations of Bordeaux (including what makes an appellation), styles of Bordeaux, and the grape varieties and techniques used to make the wines. This is a good general introduction to Bordeaux. Bread and cheese will be served.

The following ten Bordeaux wines will be served:
Ch. Martinon, Entre Deux Mers, 2014
Ch. d’Archambeau, Graves Blanc, 2013
Ch. Carbonnieux, Pessac Leognan Blanc, 2011
Ch. Ampelia, Cotes de Bordeaux – Castillon, 2011
Ch. Laplagnotte Bellvue, St. Emilion, 2012
Ch. La Pointe, Pomerol, 2012
Ch. Clos Marsalette, Pessac Leognan Rouge, 2012
Ch. Senejac, Haut Medoc, 2012
Ch. Pontac Lynch, Margaux, 2012
Ch. Lynch Moussas, Pauillac, 2011

To reserve your spot, please contact Susan at 713-854-7855 or coburnsusan2@gmail.com. When you call or email, please specify which session you wish to attend. The cost of this class is a $20 donation (cash or check only please) to the Houston Area Women’s Center. L’Alliance Française is French Cultural Center in Houston. Located at 427 Lovett Blvd., l’Alliance Française is on the south-east corner of Lovett and Whitney (one block south of Westheimer and two blocks east of Montrose).